Kroger and Albertsons have moved back the anticipated date of their merger to the opening half of the former’s fiscal 2024 after receiving opposition to the deal.

The two major US grocery retailers announced a transaction to join forces in 2022 but have pushed back the closure date from early this year. It is now expected to be completed by August.

In September, Kroger and Albertsons set out a plan to sell more than 400 stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers to secure regulatory approval for the mega-merger.

In a joint statement issued yesterday (15 January), the three companies said dialogue is “ongoing” with the Federal Trade Commission. They insisted the deal “will result in the best outcomes for customers, associates and our communities”.

Kroger said it will invest $500m to reduce prices and $1.3bn to “enhance the customer experience”.

The three companies acknowledged the delay “is longer than we originally thought” but said: “We knew it was a possibility and our merger agreement and divestiture plan accounted for such potential timing.”  

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They added: “We remain committed to closing the transaction and providing the meaningful and measurable benefits that we promised when we originally announced the transaction.”

Column, September 2023: Why the Kroger-Albertsons-C&S deal is unlikely to win over the FTC

Yesterday, Washington state’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit to block the merger. Bob Ferguson said the merger is “bad for Washington shoppers and workers”.

“Free enterprise is built on companies competing, and that competition benefits consumers. Shoppers will have fewer choices and less competition, and, without a competitive marketplace, they will pay higher prices at the grocery store. That’s not right, and this lawsuit seeks to stop this harmful merger,” Ferguson said.

The lawsuit seeks to block the merger of Kroger and Albertsons nationwide.

According to a statement from Ferguson’s office, after rumours of the proposed merger surfaced, a vice president with Albertsons wrote that “you are basically creating a monopoly in grocery with the merger… [it] makes no sense”.

The statement claimed Albertsons human resources director wrote of the merger: “It’s all about pricing and competition and we all know prices will not go down.”

Just Food has approached Albertsons for comment.

Kroger and Albertsons are the two largest supermarket chains in Washington and the second- and fourth-largest supermarket operators in the country, according to Ferguson. They currently have more than 700,000 employees in nearly 5,000 stores across 49 states. They have combined annual revenue in excess of $200bn.